Saturday, 21 January 2017

The Millennium Park Area

Sunday 15th January 2017

This morning found us parked up high on a hill with lovely views overlooking the Loughor Estuary, but with low cloud that looked quite threatening and a forecast that predicted rain for most of the day, our big question was 'what shall we do?'  In the end we opted for 'walkies'๐Ÿƒ so that we could explore the area in which we had landed, and also nip onto the Millennium Coastal Path to assist with getting our bearings for later outings.  

The Millennium Coastal Path is a 13 mile combined walkway and cycle-way along the south coast of Carmarthenshire that links Llanelli with the Pembrey Country Park.  Along it's way it passes through The Millennium Coastal Park which is an area of more than 2000 acres of reclaimed industrial wasteland that has been landscaped to provide leisure facilities for locals and tourists to enjoy.  But today, as we were on ๐Ÿ‘ฃ, we only saw a small section of it, but that was enough to aid our plan for further exploration tomorrow.

Our foray also provided an opportunity to find out more about the area's history, and we learnt that the Loughor estuary is renowned for it's cockles - the gathering of them being an activity that dates from medieval times when it was done to provide free meals for poor families.  Apparently cockling still takes place today but they are still only gathered by hand to ensure there are enough left for the birds and that the cockle beds can recover for subsequent years.  In the distance we could see one or two folk gathering them but we decided we didn't fancy 'cockle curry' so we didn't join in!  There was also loads of info about the areas past industrialisation, but looking around today, there's not much evidence of it left.

As usual we'd taken our picnic lunch with us, and we found a quiet spot on the water's edge to sit and eat it, but we didn't linger long because sitting on huge boulders was rather 'chilling' to our nether regions, so once fed we pottered back up into Llanelli town and then home for a Sunday steak dinner.

Monday 16th January 2017

Hi Thomas - Grandma and Grandad just want to send you lots of love  hugs and kisses ๐Ÿ˜˜ for your 5th Birthday ๐ŸŽ‚๐ŸŽ๐Ÿ•ฏ๐ŸŽˆ๐ŸŽ‚ 

I asked the dragon for a lift but he
wasn't listening!
This morning our plan was to ride ๐Ÿšด along the part of the Millennium trail, that leads to Pembrey Country Park and head for the town of Kidwelly,  but in the end we didn't quite reach our goal because the cycle track seemed to run out just before we got there, and to continue would have required us to ride on quite a busy main road. However, up until that point our ride had been quite spectacular and had taken us mostly along coastal trail and then through the park, and on several occasions the sun had peaked ๐ŸŒฅout to warm us as we went.  So when the road loomed, we needed little persuasion  to turn tail and head back to Burry Port ๐Ÿ›ฅwhere we knew there was a ideal picnic spot along with a burger ๐Ÿ”van where we could buy chips to supplement the goodies in our panniers. However, that turned out to be a bit of a mistake because the chips were far from good - but having said that - we didn't waste many!

One of Burry Port's main claims to fame is that the town is home to the harbour where Amelia Earhart landed her sea-plane, she was the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean.  But once we'd admired her memorial we decided it was time to head back because it was still a good 10 miles home, and at least half of that would be uphill!  In all we covered about 35 miles, and although we did use our 'zoom' power a bit we mostly saved it to get us up the very steep hill that will be the sting in the tail on all our excursions from our present campsite.

Tuesday 17th January 2017

This morning dawned with heavy mizzling clouds๐ŸŒง that produced fine drenching rain so we didn't venture out until well into the afternoon.  But when we did go we decided to put into practice what might become a new 'hobby'.  We went Nordic Walking!  I've had my poles for quite a while and first participated in the sport at a 'taster' class at Centre Parks many years ago, and while we've been on the continent we've noted it's been a very  popular pass-time for couples of our age.  Therefore we set about finding out more for the all knowing oracle that is called the internet, and we also equipped John with new poles so that he could 'play' too! Apparently, it seems that by walking in this way you can burn up to 40% more calories because your using your upper body muscles, and it is also good for your general posture.

Anyway, we set off around 2pm, walked about 7 miles, and got home about 4ish - and  we both felt our outing will be something we'll be repeating on a regular basis, with the added benefit of being able to do it in 'The Great Outdoor Gym'

Wednesday 18th January 2017

Today was forecast to be partial cloud but with good sunny intervals, but I think the weather man's crystal ball ๐Ÿ”ฎ must have been playing up because the cloud stayed quite low all day, and therefore, the sun never got to peek out.  However, our plans had already been made so we were soon to be found out on our bikes and heading for the Mumbles.   This required us to travel in the opposite direction along the Millennium Coastal Path to the way we'd gone on Monday, so between the two outings we covered it's complete length.  But that was only the beginning - today's ride was a tad under 40 miles and was really a re exploration of ground we'd covered 6 years ago when we'd stayed in a cottage in the Mumbles previously.

The smudge on the top left is the Murmur!
Our route could almost have been call a 'Coast to Coast' as it took us along side the estuary into Loughor, then across the Gower Peninsula to the Mumbles where we stopped for lunch (with more chips that were yummy) before retracing our tracks on the homeward leg of our journey.   And this was when we saw starlings murmuring - a huge mass of said birds flocking together in a murmuration.  Apparently they do that just before going to roost for the night, first with a small group of birds, and then more join in with the huge flock changing direction as one to provide areal acrobatics that are quite breathtaking.
And this is John watching them

Unfortunately,  because of the poor light it was impossible to catch them on camera, but it was a fantastic sight to see, and at times we were fairly sure we could actually see additional groups of birds joining the main flock and increasing the size of the murmur.

Thursday 19th January 2017

Well, today we got our sunshine!  When we opened our blinds this morning we could hardly see across the field due to mist, but it soon burnt off leaving wall to wall warm ๐ŸŒž for most of the day.  So once again out came our bikes, but this time we headed inland towards the hamlet of Tumble by riding up the Swiss Valley Trail.  This turned out to be a well surfaced track that follows a disused railway line and climbs gently from the Millennium Park into the rolling hills above Llanelli, past peaceful Lleidi Reservoirs and on to the village of Cross Hands.   And to start with we were quite good - the slope was only gentle so we only used peddle power, but as 3 miles turned into 4 and 4 into 5, we could resist no longer, and our pedal assist batteries were put to good use to enhance our enjoyment of the ride.

Lunch Stop
At about mile 13 we reached the top, but alas, although the views had been quite stunning as we rode up, we still couldn't find anywhere to sit and enjoy our picnic.  Therefore, we decided to zoom all the way back down into the Millennium park before we partook of our tuna cobs and chicken crisps!  And it was as we neared our destination that we stopped to chat with an elderly chap who also had an electric bike. He talked ten to the dozen in heavily accented Welsh English so it was quite difficult to catch all he said, but we did ascertain that he was 71 and had the misfortune to have 2 stokes and a heart attack - and he'd still managed to clock up 4,000 miles over the last year - we'll have to try harder!

Anyway, by the time we'd done chatting it was nearing 2.30 and we were starving, so as soon as we reached the coast we parked up by a comfy bench and sat munching our lunch - and as we did so the sun warmed us in a very Spring like and welcome manner.

Friday 20th January 2017

Another glorious sunny day in the land of Lin and John - and another stunning bike ride.  However, we'd been here for six days now so we couldn't really think of anywhere to go without repeating what we'd already done - but that wasn't a problem - we just repeated it anyway and enjoyed it just as much!  We left T4rdis2 at about 10.30 and headed down to the Millennium trail where we turned left and rode out along the coast to the trail's end point  just before the town of Loughor.  And it was here that we paused for coffee while we watched the numerous birds hunting for their dinner on the shore line as the tide receded.

Then after our refreshments we remounted and retraced our steps back to North Dock, and then further on to Burry Port - thus covering the Millennium trail in it's entirety.

While we were at Burry Port this time we took the time to read about the Copper works that were established nearby between 1849 and 1912.  The information board explained about the dreadful conditions in which men women and children had to work, and went on to say that periods of duty could last up to 24hrs.  It made us very thankful that we live in the 21st century.  Today there is very little left of the plant but the land still has restricted access so it makes you wonder if something horrible has been left behind!

And talking of horrible - we also learnt about the dangers of Pastinanca sativa - wild parsnips - the warning signs advised that this common plant can cause a serious rash and blistering and you should avoid sitting on it!

Our ride altogether was about 30 miles, around an area that I think we will never get bored with no matter how many times we repeat our visits, so as when we stopped for our last break, just before heading back up the hill to T4rdis2, we had already decided we would be coming back down tomorrow for a final visit before we move on to Devon on Sunday.

The Loughor Estuary at low tide

Saturday 21st January 2017

How lucky are we? - today was another beautiful ๐ŸŒž day, so as planned we gathered up our  Nordic Walking Poles and set off back down to the coast for another ' STROLL' along the Millennium coastal trail -  if that's what a 10 mile fast paced walk can be called.  And that's about it really!   We partook of coffee and cake while we were out, did a bit of shopping, then hightailed it back to T4rdis2 in time to give the van a though clean inside and out so that we can be on our chocks to set off early tomorrow for destination Devon.

So we'll see you again when we get there
Take care ๐Ÿ˜˜

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